FAQ

Tuition

My child is not sure about starting. What about a taster lesson?

 The first lesson is always without charge and parents are welcome to sit in. I sometimes organise large-scale taster sessions towards the end of the summer term for pupils who might be interested in starting lessons in the following September.

 
Will my child progress faster if I book one-to-one lessons?

Possibly, but not necessarily. Many pupils actually progress faster in the earliest stages if they are in a pair or small group – having other pupils learning around you gives you a benchmark for your own progress and more motivation to practice. So much depends on the personality, age and level of the pupil. Remember that what is actually on offer may vary from school to school and will always depend on current numbers. If in doubt, please email hugh@ringing-strings.co.uk.

What happens if a lesson is missed?

Please refer to the agreement letter where all this sort of thing is covered in detail. If you go ahead and want to book lessons, I will need you to fill in and sign a copy of this letter so that we are on a secure business footing.

What happens if a group or pair “doesn’t work”?

Groups need to be compatible and each pupil needs to be able to achieve their potential within the group. You should always feel free to discuss this with me if you feel there is a problem. I check group lists regularly and suggest regrouping if I feel that pupils will achieve more in a different combination.

 

Don’t the children get behind with school work if they are coming out of class for instrumental lessons?

It is not normally a problem, and if it ever becomes one, then please contact me to discuss. Teachers and classmates will generally make sure that a child knows the homework, if necessary. In some schools, I rotate the music lesson times so that the child does not always miss the same school lesson. But with younger pupils, it is often simpler to keep the same lesson time from week to week.

Do you have instruments for hire?

I do have a small stock. Please ask if you are interested and I will let you know what I have available.

How much practice should my child aim to do in a week?

Of all the problems that my pupils run into, 90% are to do with not practicing enough in between lessons at home!

A beginner should be aiming to do four or five practices a week of about 10 minutes, actually focussing on the work that has been set. Any less than that, and progress will be fitful and slow and frustration will soon set in. (Of course, if a pupil can do more, then I am always delighted!)

More advanced pupils, especially if preparing for a concert, a Music Medal or grade test, should step up their practice time to at least 20 minutes per session and aim for a session every day. 

More about guitars

What exactly is an “acoustic guitar”?

In a general way, it just means "any guitar which is not electric". However, it usually has a more particular meaning: it refers to the metal-string version of the instrument, as opposed to the nylon-string or “classical” guitar.

Why do teachers recommend starting with a nylon-string guitar, not a metal-string?

This has nothing to do with musical style, it’s just to do with playing comfort. Metal strings will make your fingers sore to begin with – nylon strings are much softer and are also spaced wider apart, which makes it much easier to learn your way round the fingerboard. It is also easier to get into a really comfortable ergonomic sitting position with a classical guitar. And for children, it is much easier to find good-quality scaled-down classical guitars (see below).

What about smaller guitars for children?

As a rough guide, children in Years 3 -6 will need a three-quarter size (very easy to find) – from Year 7 upwards, they will move on to full size. You can also find half size guitars – but (this is a personal view) if a child is too small for a three-quarter size, it is probably better to play ukulele for a while instead. A half size guitar is too small to have much tone, and the strings are so close together that it is difficult to pluck and fret the strings accurately.

Do you teach electric or bass guitar?

Not as a rule, no. I have too much fun working with acoustic instruments, and I try to make sure my pupils do, too!